Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-13-2019, 11:57 AM
Tripler is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: JSOTF SDMB, OL-LANL
Posts: 7,330

Can individual emails be created/coded to disable the "Reply All" function?


I'm on business travel, and over the week, my cellphone has downloaded 34 emails all in regard to a corporate-sent policy update:

HQ: "Good news! You can increase your 401(k) contributions! Happy Holidays!"
Joe in a 'Reply to all': "Why am I getting this? I'm on the pension plan. . ."
Phyllis in a 'Reply to all': "I already contribute 11%"
Mike in a 'Reply to all': "PLEASE don't Reply to all!!!"
Doug in a 'Reply to all': "unsubscribe."
Noreen in a 'Reply to all': "Please stop replying to all!"
Phillip in a 'Reply to all': "I can only contribute 4%. This email doesn't apply to me. . ."
Nancy in a 'Reply to all': "I don't understand the policy. I donated already."
Other Joe in a 'Reply to all': "Please stop replying to all!"
. . . and you get the picture. I'll spare you the ~25 other emails' summaries.

Besides the point people are kinda/sorta divulging their financial information to the entire company, people are "Replying to All" to ask people to stop "Replying to all."

I myself have had a direct, techincal email sent to two recipients be forwarded to others (people kept getting added to the "To:" field, only to spiral out of control with innane, non-related discussion when people "Replied to All."

WIth modern email clients, isn't there a way to turn off the "Reply to All" function with an email option, prior to sending it?

Tripler
This is beyond my CHAIRBORNE Ranger capabilities.

Last edited by Tripler; 12-13-2019 at 11:59 AM.
  #2  
Old 12-13-2019, 12:02 PM
markn+ is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: unknown; Speed: exactly 0
Posts: 3,033
You could put the addressees in a Bcc list rather than a To list
  #3  
Old 12-13-2019, 12:10 PM
filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,775
Quote:
Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
You could put the addressees in a Bcc list rather than a To list
Yes, they should have put the recipients in the Bcc field, which stands for blind copy. To expand on this, recipients in the Bcc receive the email, but their address does not show up in the To or CC fields in the email that everyone gets. If someone were to respond to the bulk email, the only address in the headers would be in the From field. It wouldn't matter if the recipient used Reply or Reply All, since there wouldn't be any addresses in the To or CC headers.

I'm surprised at how often marketing emails from companies don't use Bcc. I'll sometimes get a promotional email from a company and the To field will have hundreds of customer email address along with my own.
  #4  
Old 12-13-2019, 12:14 PM
Ruken is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 7,922
You can also make distribution lists that require permission to send to. I'm not aware of how this works but it's not new technology.
  #5  
Old 12-13-2019, 12:29 PM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 29,612
Quote:
Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
You could put the addressees in a Bcc list rather than a To list
That's what I prefer people do. I think you should have someone, even if it's just the sender, in the To field.

And I'm surprised the OP's string of replies was only 34. I've had a lot more than that when this happened, and this was at a large information technology firm (where I would expect people to know better than to reply all).
  #6  
Old 12-13-2019, 12:35 PM
enalzi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 8,452
On Outlook at least, if you get tried in a reply all chain you can click the "Ignore" button to automatically delete any future replies.
  #7  
Old 12-13-2019, 01:01 PM
SmartAleq's Avatar
SmartAleq is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: PDXLNT
Posts: 5,572
Oh lawdy, that just gave me PTSD from the memory of coming to work after three days off to find out some bunch of idiots had done exactly this and spending an hour deleting 500+ reply-to-alls from my inbox. Most of which were replies to all saying "Stop replying to all!!!1!"

The biggest fault is with the email handler programmers, who put "reply to all" as the default in the list. Put that fucker all the way on the bottom and the problem would end immediately.
  #8  
Old 12-13-2019, 01:13 PM
Caldazar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 848
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripler View Post

WIth modern email clients, isn't there a way to turn off the "Reply to All" function with an email option, prior to sending it?
Depends on how the email client is programmed. There's nothing stopping a developer from implementing such a function if he/she wants to. For example, Microsoft Outlook has such options that can be configured by the administrator. Of course, there's nothing to stop a user from replying, and then cutting and pasting the list of email recipients into the reply by hand. And email clients/systems are not required to obey each others custom-directives anyway; it's not like there is an official "disallow-reply-all" email protocol function that all systems must adhere to.

You can also handle this server-side by doing things like disallowing certain users from emailing a distribution list, setting a max limit on the number of allowable recipients per mail message (and rejecting non-compliant messages), and other such server-side filtering methods.

Last edited by Caldazar; 12-13-2019 at 01:17 PM.
  #9  
Old 12-13-2019, 02:33 PM
Baron Greenback's Avatar
Baron Greenback is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Scotland
Posts: 12,074
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
And I'm surprised the OP's string of replies was only 34. I've had a lot more than that when this happened, and this was at a large information technology firm (where I would expect people to know better than to reply all).
At a large financial I used to work at it started with one of the senior managers - somehow - accidentally emailing the entire company with "Do we need milk? I'll get some on the way home"

The first reply-all, mere seconds later, and not from the intended recipient, was along the lines of "Aye Jim, and can you get some eggs too? Cheers"

It was the first of many, many replies until they had to take the email servers offline for a bit.
  #10  
Old 12-13-2019, 02:58 PM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 29,612
Some people like to take the opportunity to share their wit with the entire company, even though they're not as funny as they think. Others are the ones sending "unsubscribe" as if the string is some sort of voluntary mailing list, or saying "Please don't reply all" to everyone.
  #11  
Old 12-13-2019, 10:25 PM
JWT Kottekoe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,022
Quote:
Originally Posted by filmore View Post
... the Bcc field, which stands for blind copy. ...
For the benefit of the youngsters, let me explain the double c. "Bcc:" was the typist's code for "blind carbon copy". In the days before email and copying machines, copies were made with carbon paper.
  #12  
Old 12-13-2019, 10:59 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 86,411
Quote:
Quoth Caldazar:

Depends on how the email client is programmed. There's nothing stopping a developer from implementing such a function if he/she wants to.
Sure, you could create a client that recognized codes in an e-mail to disable features. But that would only help you if the people reply-alling were using that client. Most clients would just ignore the codes, and continue to let everyone in the company reply-all.

Nor is making the reply-all feature inconvenient to use the right solution, because there are a lot of cases where you really do want to reply-all (just, not to the entire company).

BCC is really the only solution to the OP's issue.
  #13  
Old 12-14-2019, 04:30 PM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 21,156
Given the prevalence of this issue going back a long, long time, I'm surprised that every email program on the planet doesn't make you click a couple extra times before the "reply all" goes out.

"Hey, did you notice that this email is going to be sent to the following 183 people?"
click
"Please type in the number of people that was listed in the previous window before continuing."
"183"
"Okay, I'm going to send it in one minute. This window will stay up until then and you can click "Cancel" to stop this from going out to all these people."

Ditto initial emails accidentally sent out to a large mailing list.
  #14  
Old 12-14-2019, 04:34 PM
Northern Piper is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is back, dammit!
Posts: 30,433
I like that idea, ftg!

Considering they’ve built in a prompt to remind me to attach a document, your suggestion seems like an easy fix
__________________
"I don't like to make plans for the day. If I do, that's when words like 'premeditated' start getting thrown around in the courtroom."
  #15  
Old 12-14-2019, 07:52 PM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 29,612
And that prompt is a clever bit of programming. If my message says something like "Attached please find", but there's no attachment, it will pop up to warn me that I may have forgotten the attachment. Exchange/Outlook also let me know before sending the message if any of the recipients have their out-of-office message enabled, to warn that they're not going to see the message.
  #16  
Old 12-14-2019, 08:09 PM
markn+ is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: unknown; Speed: exactly 0
Posts: 3,033
Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Given the prevalence of this issue going back a long, long time, I'm surprised that every email program on the planet doesn't make you click a couple extra times before the "reply all" goes out.

"Hey, did you notice that this email is going to be sent to the following 183 people?"
The problem is, the email client (in general) has no way to know how many members a distribution list has, or indeed if a specific address is a distribution list or an individual. Environments where the client is more tightly integrated with the server, like Outlook, might be able to do something like this, but an IMAP/POP client couldn't.
  #17  
Old 12-14-2019, 08:51 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 86,411
But if it's a distribution list, depending on how it's set up, a simple "reply" might still go out to everyone. If the client is sending to a single address, and it still goes to 183 people, the problem isn't that people are clicking "reply all".
  #18  
Old 12-14-2019, 11:07 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 15,180
Quote:
Originally Posted by markn+ View Post
You could put the addressees in a Bcc list rather than a To list
Quote:
Originally Posted by filmore View Post
Yes, they should have put the recipients in the Bcc field, which stands for blind copy. To expand on this, recipients in the Bcc receive the email, but their address does not show up in the To or CC fields in the email that everyone gets. If someone were to respond to the bulk email, the only address in the headers would be in the From field. It wouldn't matter if the recipient used Reply or Reply All, since there wouldn't be any addresses in the To or CC headers.

I'm surprised at how often marketing emails from companies don't use Bcc. I'll sometimes get a promotional email from a company and the To field will have hundreds of customer email address along with my own.
Absolutely! Use bcc.

I was once involved at a non-profit where a supposedly-professional, paid staffer sent out a mass email, with all the email addresses visible to every recipient. Including the confidential, private emails of some very wealthy donors who were major funders. A couple of them called the President to complain about this exposure.

He cme storming out of his office, publicly, angrily reprimanded the emailer, told him he was immediately suspended for 3 days, and "then we'll consider if we need you services any longer". Everybody in that organization was very careful not to expose our whole contributors list again! And really, this should just be standard professional practice for anyone.
  #19  
Old 12-15-2019, 01:41 PM
filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,775
A helpful use of Bcc is when an initial email goes to many people, but followup emails only need to go to a smaller set. Whoever trims the other people from the email can put those addresses in the Bcc so those people know the remaining people are continuing the discussion.

For example, an initial email goes out to 10 people asking if anyone can help fix a problem. One person who takes ownership responds that they'll work on it. Whatever people they still want to be in the email chain can stay in the To or CC fields, but they can put the people being dropped in the BCC. Subsequent Reply All replies will only go to the smaller set of people.
  #20  
Old 12-15-2019, 04:10 PM
dalej42 is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 15,325
I am NOT a computer expert but at my former company they had some feature turned on that would alert you if you’re sending or replying to an email with a large number of recipients and you’d have to click on the, ‘Are you sure?’ Someone on the cleaning staff might get a pass for replying to all, but if you’re a college grad working a 50k job in which you’re required to be very computer literate, your manager isn’t going to be happy that you replied to all.
__________________
Twitter:@Stardales IG:@Dalej42
  #21  
Old 12-15-2019, 07:14 PM
Mangetout's Avatar
Mangetout is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 58,147
Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Given the prevalence of this issue going back a long, long time, I'm surprised that every email program on the planet doesn't make you click a couple extra times before the "reply all" goes out.

"Hey, did you notice that this email is going to be sent to the following 183 people?"
click
"Please type in the number of people that was listed in the previous window before continuing."
"183"
"Okay, I'm going to send it in one minute. This window will stay up until then and you can click "Cancel" to stop this from going out to all these people."

Ditto initial emails accidentally sent out to a large mailing list.
Outlook/O365/Exchange has something a bit like the first part of that challenge sequence - mailtips, which can be configured on distribution lists to say things like "this message will be delivered to more than 100 people" (they can be set up on mailboxes too, so I have one on my IT team mailbox that says "Are you sure you didn't mean to be raising a ticket instead of mailing the team?")
  #22  
Old 12-16-2019, 05:25 PM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 21,156
My example of stupid use of CC:

I was on the email list of a major Internet security company. I got an email from them that had hundreds of email addresses given in the CC field. It was clear that this was an alphabetic subrange of their email list. Just a few people pooling their resources could have gotten quite a bit of the whole list.

And done bad things with it.

Nice security mentality there folks.
  #23  
Old 12-16-2019, 10:23 PM
dgrdfd is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: For Leaffan
Posts: 789
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
That's what I prefer people do. I think you should have someone, even if it's just the sender, in the To field.

And I'm surprised the OP's string of replies was only 34. I've had a lot more than that when this happened, and this was at a large information technology firm (where I would expect people to know better than to reply all).
The downside to this is often times as a manger I need to know that certain people received the information and if the sender uses BCC I have to manually forward it on.
  #24  
Old 12-16-2019, 10:30 PM
dgrdfd is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: For Leaffan
Posts: 789
Edit window missed but what I’m saying is that BCC is bad when it’s used for a general “dissemination of information” If you send an email to managers and then every manager at every level “forwards it on” to managers and others on their team the trickle down effect means some get more than a reply all. And the information may be slower to trickle down.
  #25  
Old 12-17-2019, 07:31 AM
Tripler is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: JSOTF SDMB, OL-LANL
Posts: 7,330
Sorry for the late reply, but thank you for all of the responses! I work for a large firm in the foothills near Santa Fe, and yes, I'm surprised it was only 34 responses. After going through my inbox yesterday, I realized that some of them were kinda snarky to those who "Replied All."

Somehow, somewhere along the line, the problem got fixed. I expect that the admins of the mailing list restricted the ability to send/reply to the list mid-stream. Otherwise there could have potentially been thousands.

But this is good to know--especially when I send out periodic updates to a handful of folks, and the discussion spreads like wildfire.

Tripler
Nuclear-rated Chairborne Ranger.
  #26  
Old 12-17-2019, 02:02 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
But if it's a distribution list, depending on how it's set up, a simple "reply" might still go out to everyone. If the client is sending to a single address, and it still goes to 183 people, the problem isn't that people are clicking "reply all".
I had this happen to me back in the early 2000s. I got a marketing email on a Friday evening. It wasn't even really an ongoing subscription, just an email that went out to everyone who had entered an online sweepstakes announcing the winner. Except the distribution list had been misconfigured so every reply went to the entire list. So when a bunch of people inevitably replied "unsubscribe", they all went to my inbox and everyone else's on that list. So for that entire weekend my inbox was inundated with emails saying "unsubscribe", and then "why am I getting this???", "Stop emailing me!!!", "Why won't you unsubscribe me???!!!" Until Monday morning when presumably the IT person who caused the problem discovered what was going on and put a stop to it.
  #27  
Old 12-17-2019, 06:28 PM
Omar Little's Avatar
Omar Little is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Within
Posts: 13,335
Most companies have corrected this problem using one of the solutions already described.

When this became a problem at my previous employer about 15 years ago. I asked our head of HR if he had been collecting the names of the people that were “replying all” to the recent company wide emails. He asked me why. I told him that the next time we needed to have a reduction in force he already had a head start in the list.
  #28  
Old 12-19-2019, 11:38 AM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 68,513
Quote:
Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
On Outlook at least, if you get tried in a reply all chain you can click the "Ignore" button to automatically delete any future replies.
God bless you. I never noticed that button before.
__________________
This can only end in tears.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:55 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017